Destination Marketing Fee ‘Optional’

Most tourists who visit Niagara Falls really enjoy the “WOW” parts of their visit. What they don’t like is the high prices for a lot of things from restaurant to hotel prices. I guess it’s a case of charging what the market will accept.

But there is a charge that you don’t have to pay. Back in 2004, the Ontario Ministry of Tourism (government) introduced a voluntary fee that allowed businesses to add a percentage of your bill, to support tourism marketing and development. In theory, the money would be given to a third party marketing agency. However, businesses in Niagara Falls that charge the fee apparently keep the fee and use it as they wish.

The fee was supposed to be in the range of 3%, but it isn’t unusual for some businesses to charge a different rate, sometimes as much as 10%. Investigative reporting by television stations that dig into things like this haven’t embarrassed anyone yet into fixing the situation.

You may want to ask your hotel, restaurant or other venue if they add the Destination Marketing Fee, or DMF to the bill, and how much is the fee if there is one. Now you have a choice, you can use the facility and knowingly pay it with your bill, or you can go elsewhere where the fee isn’t being charged. It isn’t a tax, so it isn’t mandatory. However I encourage you not to get into a verbal battle over it, just don’t patronize the venue that insists on the tax.

The City of Niagara Falls can’t do anything about it because it is a Provincial Government problem and the city apparently has no jurisdiction. This is an issue that many people and businesses are fighting, while others are enjoying reaping the rewards.